Eric Schmidt-Backed Slice Reveals Revamped iOS And Android Apps

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Don’t let their recent quiet streak fool you — the team at Eric Schmidt-backed receipt aggregator/tracking service Slice have spent the last few months slaving away on revamped versions of their iOS and Android apps, and now that major update is ready for the purchase tracking masses.

With Slice 2.0, co-founder and CEO Scott Brady wanted to do more than just track packages and aggregate users’ purchase histories. Perhaps the most notable addition to the updated Slice mobile apps is a new personal analytics option called Thingerprint that breaks down how much users have spent on what kinds of products, with options to drill into specific purchase categories, item types, and merchants.

Naturally, most of my paycheck goes toward gadgets and other similarly shiny new things, so Slice’s Thingerprint has branded me a “Gadget Geek.” It may not be the most original addition to the mix — rivals Lemon and OneReceipt have taken a similar approach — but having a fairly comprehensive breakdown of your purchasing habits at your fingertips isn’t the sort of thing most users would turn their noses up at.

While the addition of personal analytics adds another dimension to the service, some of the updated bits were just about making Slice more accessible to particular use cases. During Slice’s early days for instance, the service could only connect to and scan Yahoo! And Gmail accounts for emailed receipts and tracking notifications.

Not so any more — Brady and his teamed fleshed out Slice 2.0 with support for iCloud, Hotmail, and AOL email accounts. Also featured prominently is the ability to manually add a new purchase to your Slice account by scanning the barcode off of a packing slip, though it should be noted that the Android version requires users to download a separate scanner app for that feature to work properly.

Some of the additions included in this most recent update may seem like no-brainers, but the process wasn’t always that straightforward. Brady confirmed to me that there was plenty of thoughtful testing and retesting before he and team signed off on the final updates.

“The focus groups give us ideas on where we like to take our capabilities,” he said “We rely pretty heavily on them, and before we go too far on any product we do plenty of testing and tweaking.”

For what it’s worth, his approach seems to be working so far. Since Slice’s launch in May 2011, the service has processed and tracked over 25 million purchases, and that number is sure to grow even larger if the company eventually gives in to their users’ demands.

“Behind additional email support, global availability is the second most requested feature,” Brady remarked. “Today we only support the U.S., but we’ve created a technology that can work throughout the rest of the world.”

Slice provides the simplest way to track and organize everything you buy online. Slice keeps shopping information organized and accessible. After signing up, the app automatically pulls information from electronic receipts within email and organizes it in one place for quick, easy reference – all while keeping personal information private and secure. With Slice, users can track packages automatically, save money with price drop alerts, access e-receipts and purchase details anytime and track your spending. It even processes electronic…

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Android And iOS Still Lead In Smartphone Market Share, But The Race For Third Rages On

Chris Velazco is a mobile enthusiast and writer who studied English and Marketing at Rutgers University. Once upon a time, he was the news intern for MobileCrunch, and in between posts, he worked in wireless sales at Best Buy. After graduating, he returned to the new TechCrunch to as a full-time mobile writer. He counts advertising, running, musical theater,… ? Learn More

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Nielsen released another of their periodic looks at the U.S. smartphone market today, and aside from the revelation that two-thirds of U.S. phone purchasers went for smartphones in Q2 2012, the results are as you’d expect.

Android still leads the pack in terms of pure penetration — as of this past June, it accounts for 51.8% of smartphones in use (up from 50.4% in Q1 2012) with Apple’s iOS right behind it at 34%. Don’t feel too bad for Apple though, as they still have the highest manufacturer share by far (34% in Q2), with Samsung at a distant second.

That those two platforms still hold first and second place shouldn’t come as surprise, and their slight gains come at a cost. Nielsen has RIM still clinging to third place despite another quarterly drop, as it now accounts for 8.1% of smartphones in use. Meanwhile, the rest of the competition languishes below 5% as of Q2 2012.

It’s that part of the market that seems the most interesting right now, as there’s still plenty of room in the market for a third strong mobile ecosystem to emerge while Apple and Google continue to slug it out. The question though is what that third platform will be, and there are no clear indicators to be found in Nielsen’s data.

RIM looks like a possibility, considering it has managed to hold on to a its tenuous third, though it’s tough to say how their recent performance will affect this figure going forward. CEO Thorsten Heins noted during the company’s somewhat contentious shareholders meeting that their current and forthcoming BlackBerry 7 devices would comprise the company’s low and mid-range product tiers until it can push out a full slate of BB10 hardware next year.

Still, RIM had best gird itself for a long(er) transition period, as its split focus between platforms may not do it any favors. The process of shifting users from older devices to new ones will take a considerable amount of time, especially as the company focuses on getting existing BlackBerry users to upgrade right now.

Of course, Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 is set to make its official debut this fall, putting it well ahead of RIM’s nascent “computing platform.” That’s not to say a head start is all that it takes to win in a race like this — there’s something to be said for how well a company can capture new customers (or upgrade older ones), and Microsoft seems to have had some issues with that. Nielsen’s data still puts Microsoft’s aging Windows Mobile platform (3% of the market as of Q2 2012) ahead of the much-newer Windows Phone (1.3%). With any luck, Microsoft has learned a few things and garnered enough developer support to put Windows Phone 8 higher up in the rankings, but only time will tell whether or not either of these companies has the savvy to make real contenders of their forthcoming mobile operating systems.

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CEO Elop Hints Nokia Will Be 1st To Windows Phone 8, Weighs In On China And Android

Ingrid is a reporter for TechCrunch, joining February 2012, based out of London. She comes from paidContent.org, where she was a staff writer, and has in the past also written freelance regularly for other publications such as the Financial Times. Ingrid covers mobile, digital media, advertising and the spaces where these intersect. When it comes to work, she feels most… ? Learn More

windows-phone-8

Nokia’s Q2 earnings out today reflect the big challenges for the handset maker amid what CEO Stephen Elop calls the “ferocity” of competition from Android and Apple, but here’s a clue to one interesting development: he closed off today’s analyst call with a hint that Nokia will be the first handset maker to produce a smartphone on the future Windows Phone 8 platform from Microsoft.


Asked at the very end of the call if Nokia would make the first phone for Windows Phone 8, Elop would not answer directly, but said: “One signal [of what is coming] is that on the number of occasions when Windows Phone 8 has been demonstrated it has been on a Nokia device. We have a close relationship that is unlike what anyone else has with Microsoft.”


The comments were made in the context of Elop defending Nokia’s relationship with Redmond. Another analyst had pointed out that while it looked from the start like a very cozy friendship, more recently Microsoft has been announcing new products in mobile, seemingly with little regard for Nokia (Surface, anyone?). Steve Ballmer has said as much himself by touting how Microsoft worked with a variety of device makers.


Elop says no way: “We have established a preferred position with Microsoft in partnership — and also contractually,” (last part slightly ominously, IMO). He also noted that in fact Nokia “ourselves have been encouraging others to participate in the Windows Phone ecosystem, which needs energy, investment and hardware work because of the ‘ferocity’ of the competition with Apple and Android.”


And back to that contract: “We have an important relationship and dependency on Windows Phone [but] they have a dependency on us as it relates to the location partnership.” Microsoft uses Nokia location data, which comes in large part from its $8 billion Navteq purchase. These days Nokia’s location division yields very small returns compared to devices (just €283m in net sales on a quarter that saw €7.5bn in total net sales).


Other highlights from the call:


Patents. Elop has said it before and he’s mentioned it here again. The company is losing a lot of money as it continues to shift its product base over to Windows Phone (and hope that eventually lots more consumers bite). So its assets are coming into play big time. The company has a patent portfolio worth about $6 billion, which will likely be used as part of his strategy of “looking at other things to generate cash.” Also included will be more real-estate sales, which you might also read as possible further plant closures.


Confusion/frustration with Windows Phone 8 from Windows Phone 7 users. As you may already know, there is no upgrade path from one generation of the OS to the next. One analyst asked whether Nokia planned to “reward current Lumia purchasers with upgrades” to WP8 handsets to avoid some of that disappointment.


Elop didn’t answer that directly but noted, “Owners of existing devices do have upgrades and updates coming including some WP8 features like the start screen.” He also noted that since the WP8 announcement Nokia has actually noticed an uptick in the activation of Lumia devices.


He also said Nokia will continue to sell WP7 devices even after WP8 gets released and shipped. It will use this, it seems, as part of a segmentation strategy, most likely for targeting emerging markets: “You can achieve lower price points and do things [around] that.”


He also, unsolicited, decided to compare the WP7/WP8 situation to Android. “The last numbers I saw [on Android] were that north of 60 percent of devices sold were three versions older than the current OS. By and large those are not upgradeable, and yet sold the right way, there is clearly some volume. It is not the case that sales change, so we have to manage the cohesion of the platform well.”


On China and Nokia totally losing its leadership there to Android. Elop: “China is a unique market…where subsidized Android devices have gained a lot of momentum [at a time when] we were not in a position to offer [competing] devices with subsidies.” He mentioned the Lumia 610 — but frankly trying to stand one device up against a tidal wave of competing models seems to have only worked so far for one handset maker: Apple.


On carriers and the third ecosystem after Apple and Android. “This continues to be a very strong part of the conversation all over the world. In the U.S. for example it’s coming up and it is something we will continue to use going forward.”



Nokia is a Finnish multinational communications corporation. It is primarily engaged in the manufacturing of mobile devices and in converging Internet and communications industries. They make a wide range of mobile devices with services and software that enable people to experience music, navigation, video, television, imaging, games, business mobility and more. Nokia is the owner of Symbian operation system and partially owns MeeGo operating system.

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Microsoft, founded in 1975 by Bill Gates and Paul Allen, is a veteran software company, best known for its Microsoft Windows operating system and the Microsoft Office suite of productivity software. Starting in 1980 Microsoft formed a partnership with IBM allowing Microsoft to sell its software package with the computers IBM manufactured. Microsoft is widely used by professionals worldwide and largely dominates the American corporate market. Additionally, the company has ventured into hardware with consumer products such as the Zune and…


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Twitter Turns Toward The Masses, Gets Serious About Reach Beyond iOS & Android With Latest Mobile Update

Billy Gallagher is a writer for TechCrunch. He is also the president and editor in chief of The Stanford Daily. Billy previously worked at The Stanford Daily for two volumes as a managing editor of news. He has also worked in sports and staff development at The Daily. In March of 2012 the Friends of The Stanford Daily awarded him… ? Learn More

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Twitter finalized a major overhaul of its mobile site today aimed at users on feature phones and older browsers. In a blog post, the Twitter design team wrote that they built a “lighter-weight, faster client that looks and feels like twitter.com and our mobile apps.”

The new site is much cleaner and is very similar to the browser and app interfaces, allowing the company to deliver the best version of its product across more platforms. This comes on the heels of yesterday’s release of new Twitter mobile apps for iOS and Android.

The results of Twitter’s nine week project brings mobile support to thirteen different browsers for thousands of different devices. On the blog, the team writes about working to provide users with a “consistent experience on any device.” The new site can scale from screens as small as 240 x 240 pixels up to desktops. In an effort to accomodate slower networks and different browsers, the site is optimized for browsers with javascript turned off and offers page sizes that are up to 63% smaller than the old version.

Some of the devices Twitter used for testing

After studying how people were using the mobile site, from analyzing how often they Tweeted to how often they refreshed or loaded more Tweets, the designers sketched on paper and jumped into testing and tweaking versions. The team says they tested the mobile site on over 300 different devices. They noted that new features, such as JavaScript support and enhancements for widescreen, are coming soon.

Correction (3:03 PM): An earlier version of this story stated that “Twitter announced a major overhaul of its mobile site today.” Twitter actually announced this change in May; today, Twitter announced that it has been fully rolled out and released statistics and information about the new mobile site.

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Google Adds 20+ Museums To Indoor Google Maps, Says More On The Way

space museum

Following the debut of indoor maps in Google Maps back in November, Google announced today that it’s adding the indoor maps for over twenty U.S. museums to its Maps app on Android. The museums added include the de Young Museum in San Francisco, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Cincinnati Museum Center, the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the American Museum of Natural History and 17 Smithsonian museums, the company says, as well as the Smithsonian National Zoo.

The museums now join Google’s collection of over 10,000 indoor maps it has added to its database since the launch in November. At that time, the app included the maps for several major airports as well as some big name retailers, like IKEA. Since then, Google has been steadily improving the product. In April, Google rolled out an Android app for businesses that allows them to provide feedback about how accurate Google’s predications are for the indoor venues. And in May, Google released an even bigger upgrade which introduced indoor walking directions, business photos and even Google Offers integration.

Today’s release may only include a subset of the nations museums, but Google says more are on the way. Specifically, it lists the following as coming soon: SFMOMA, The Phillips Collection, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and the National WWII Museum in New Orleans. Other museums can choose to take matters into their own hands and use the Google Maps Floor Plans tool to upload their own indoor maps for inclusion.

This isn’t the first time Google has worked with museums – the company’s efforts with Google Art Project allow visitors to virtually explore art from museums around the world through high-res photos.

This feature is currently available in the Google Maps app on Android phones and tablets. To access it, just launch the app and zoom in on the museum.

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